World No.1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan will defend her title at the 54-hole LPGA Northwest Arkansas Championship starting Friday in hopes of claiming her eighth worldwide triumph of the year.
At 22, Tseng became the youngest golfer, man or woman, to win a fifth career major title by capturing last month’s Women’s British Open. She leads the LPGA money list, Player of Year race and owns the LPGA low season scoring average.
“I’m very excited,” Tseng said. “To become No. 1is very exciting. I have more people who pay attention to me and more pressure too.
“But now I just really enjoy what I have. I feel like I still have a long way to go and that I have a lot of things that I need to learn. I’m only 22, so I have a lot of things that I need to work on and to achieve too.”
In four seasons, Tseng has won nine LPGA titles, four of them this year, as she bids for a $US2 million purse, the highest for a non-major US event, at Pinnacle Country Club.
She will be tested by a world-class field that includes the rest of the top 10 and 47 of the top 50 players, including World No.2 Suzann Pettersen of Norway, No.3 Cristie Kerr of the United States and South Koreans Jiyai Shin and Na Yeon Choi, ranked fourth and fifth respectively.
Flags on all 18 greens will be replaced by American flags on Sunday in a tribute to those who were killed in the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.
Active and retired service personnel, firefighters, police officers and emergency response technicians all receive free admission to the event.
Next week’s event in Alabama is the last before LPGA players leave America for events in China, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan and Mexico ahead of the season-ending LPGA Titleholders tournament in Orlando, Florida.
Two-time US Women’s Amateur champion Danielle Kang, an 18-year-old American, makes her professional debut this week on a sponsor’s invitation.
Former University of Arkansas standout Stacy Lewis won her first title and first major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship last April. The American ranks second in the Player of the Year fight as she returns to her home state.
“It’s always exciting to come home to see so many friends,” she said. “I have been playing well the last few weeks and I hope to continue and have a chance to win on Sunday.”